The Storting (Norwegian parliament) sets the framework for petroleum activities in Norway, partly through its legislative powers. All matters of principle, including major development projects, must be debated by the Storting. The Storting also supervises the government and the public administration.
Even though the composition of the Storting varies over time, the overall framework for Norwegian petroleum policy has remained stable. For many years, there has been broad political agreement on the main lines of petroleum policy, which has provided the industry with a predictable and stable framework for its operations. This is particularly important for the petroleum industry, which has a long time horizon for its operations and is highly capital intensive.
Government, ministries and subordinate agencies
Executive powers rest with the Government, which is responsible for carrying out petroleum policy and is accountable to the Storting. The Government is assisted in this role by the ministries and subordinate agencies. Responsibility for implementing petroleum policy is divided as follows:
Ministry of Energy and Norwegian Offshore Directorate
The Ministry of Energy is responsible for resource management and the petroleum sector as a whole. It is also responsible for the working environment and for safety and emergency preparedness in the petroleum sector. The Ministry is also responsible for managing the state’s ownership interests in Gassco AS.
The Norwegian Offshore Directorate is a subordinate agency of the Ministry of Energy. It plays a key role in petroleum management and is an important advisory body for the Ministry. The Directorate exercises administrative authority over petroleum exploration and production on the Norwegian continental shelf, and has powers to adopt regulations and make decisions under the petroleum legislation.
The Norwegian Ocean Industry Authority is a subordinate agency of the Ministry of Energy and is responsible for technical and operational safety, emergency preparedness to deal with both accidents and wilful acts such as sabotage, and the working environment throughout the petroleum industry.
Ministry of Finance
The Ministry of Finance has the overall responsibility for the taxation system for the petroleum sector. The Petroleum Tax Office is part of the Norwegian Tax Administration, which is subordinate to the Ministry of Finance. The main function of the Petroleum Tax Office is to ensure correct assessment and collection of the taxes laid down by the political authorities.
The Directorate of Norwegian Customs is responsible for correct assessment and payment of the NOx tax.
The Ministry of Finance is also responsible for management of the Government Pension Fund Global. Operative responsibility has been delegated to Norges Bank (the Norwegian central bank).
Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries is responsible for managing the state's ownership interests in Equinor ASA (former Statoil), Petoro AS and for the State's Direct Financial Interest (SDFI) in the petroleum industry. It is also consulted as part of the procedures for awarding licences, to facilitate coexistence between the petroleum and fisheries industries.
The Ministry is also responsible for preparedness and response to acute pollution in Norwegian waters. The Norwegian Coastal Administration is one of its subordinate agencies and is responsible for governmental oil spill preparedness and response.
Ministry of Climate and Environment
The Ministry of Climate and Environment has overall responsibility for environmental policy and environmental protection in Norway. The Norwegian Environment Agency is a subordinate agency of the Ministry, and has inspection and enforcement responsibilities under the Pollution Control Act.
Petoro is a wholly state-owned company that manages the commercial aspects of the State’s Direct Financial Interest (SDFI). Through the SDFI, the Norwegian State participates directly in petroleum activities on the Norwegian continental shelf. Petoro is the licensee for the state’s share of production licences and ownership in fields and pipelines on the Norwegian shelf and associated onshore facilities.
Petoro’s main objective in managing the SDFI is to maximise state revenues from the portfolio. Petoro was established in 2001 and has almost 70 employees. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries is responsible for managing the state’s ownership of Petoro.
Equinor ASA (former Statoil)
Equinor is an international energy company with about 21 000 employees in over 30 countries. Its main activities are oil and gas production, and the company is operator for about 70 % of all oil and gas production on the Norwegian shelf. The company was established in 1972 and is listed on the Oslo and New York stock exchanges.
Equinor's board is responsible for commercial development of the company. The Norwegian state owns 67 % of the shares in the company, and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries is responsible for managing the state’s ownership interest.
The objective of state ownership of Equinor is to maintain a knowledge-based, high-technology company that has its main base in Norway. Equinor is run on a commercial basis.
Gassco was established in 2001 and is a wholly-owned state company. Gassco does not make a profit or a loss from its own operations. Gassco is the neutral and independent operator of the gas transport system, and is responsible for operating the infrastructure on behalf of the owners. The Ministry of Energy manages the state’s ownership interest in Gassco.